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OGC Monster List - Meetings and Presentations

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Meetings & Presentations:

#1 - Equal time for public in meetings. Now public has a limited time to testify, while developers and administrators are called to answer questions and lobby for a position during the meeting. The public should have a chance to respond in kind during the meeting. (McGrew)

#2 - Break presentation by applicant into small parts during DRB/DAB/P&Z meetings, and allow comment from board and interested parties after each part.  Presently, applicant presents and interested parties have to sit through the whole thing, then they are permitted to speak once and asked not repeat. It is the end of the meeting, some people have left already, people are tired, everyone wants to go home – it's not a hospitable context for comments to be heard and carefully considered. Some applicants save their best arguments for last, because they know the public has no redress at that time and can no longer offer testimony or repudiate any comments they make.  (Terhune/Stuono)

#3 - When applicant presents, must make visuals available to live and Ch17 audience. Discourage presenters from turning their back on audience or camera, or from referring to materials that audience does not have access to. Hearing Assistance equipment and microphones are very much appreciated. (Terhune)

#4 - Accurate photographs and visualizations of all projects, along with same-scale images of adjoining properties, must be submitted with applications so parties and board members can make proper comparisons. It is not uncommon for applicants to intentionally submit out-of-scale, unattractive, or unbuildable projects first, then submit updated plans at the last minute to attempt to show how they've "compromised" or "listened to the neighbors". It is not proper process for the DRB to see plans of projects that are no longer being considered. (Stuono)

#5 - Plans should not be allowed to be modified at the last minute by the applicant. Any change in size, height, or square footage should require starting the process again, unless the change is directly mandated at a public DAB/DRB hearing by the board. If an applicant cancels a hearing at the last minute (three business days), there must be a penalty.  Any appeal on this provision must be vetted to the Council.  This tactic repeatedly thwarts public input.  There also must be penalties for misrepresenting information, especially under, as well as a procedure for individuals to show when this occurs.

#6 - There should be no closed-door negotiating sessions between Planning and Zoning Staff and applicants or developers.  While the City attorney's work may involve confidentiality, Planning and Zoning staff should not.  This puts the staff members in an awkward position.  All City operations as a rule should be public, unless specifically mandated that it cannot be for sound and justifiable reasons. (Stuono)

#7 - Scoping Meetings for Planning-Related Projects & Studies-
The primary problem is that for virtually every major planning project or study there seems to be a different approach to public participation -- and these differences, which may well make sense for each project, are not well-explained at the start of a project.

The purpose of the scoping meeting -- which, of course, should be well-advertised -- could include:
-- the department explaining the purpose of the project.
-- the department's initial plan for public participation in the project.
-- the expected project time-line.
-- and most important, plenty of time at the scoping meeting for public feedback and ideas. Indeed, scoping meetings should be designed to provide feedback to help ensure that the project, before it is well-underway, will be responsive to public concerns. In light of this, it might make sense for scoping meetings to be facilitated/moderated by someone independent of the involved department.
-- the department managing the project should also provide notice of the scoping meeting to each of the city's Neighborhood Planning Assemblies and offer to attend a meeting of any NPA that wants to hear a summary of the project.

I believe uniform guidelines for scoping meetings could be established by the City Council, again, applicable to all planning-related projects regardless of which city department is undertaking the project.

Following a scoping meeting, the department should formalize its public participation plan for the project or study, and post this on the city's web site, and keep it up-to-date. Ideally, each project/study -- again regardless of which department is managing the project -- would have its own web page where the public participation plan for the project would be posted, as well as copies of minutes and/or agendas from project-related meetings (e.g., if an advisory committee is set up for the project) as well as other project documents (e.g., drafts of the plan or study as it proceeds). (Senville)



Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 01:56  

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